Cognitive faculties underlying human language

The very fact that we have and use languages is part of what makes us human. Many different languages are spoken in the world. In this programme, you get to reflect on their structures and what drives language variation and change.

How do we acquire language? How is it processed in the brain? How do we use it?

Communicating by means of language is a crucial ingredient of success in modern society. You will learn the principles of first language acquisition, and what is special about learning more languages. The programme also satisfies your curiosity to know more about the way language is processed in the brain and how we use it. The key focus of the Research Master’s programme in Linguistics is on the cognitive faculties underlying human language, and their interaction.

International community

This two-year Research Master’s programme in Linguistics brings together students from all over the world who combine their unique talents and backgrounds with a shared interest in languages, and the way language is embedded in human cognition.

Theory driven empirical research

The programme offers a broad focus on:

  • theoretical linguistics (phonology, syntax, semantics)
  • psycholinguistics (language acquisition, language processing)
  • language use (discourse studies, bilingualism, phonetics, historical linguistics)

You will acquire a solid background in all three domains, and then choose a series of elective courses in order to specialise in one area. You will receive training in empirical, computational, and experimental methodology, and you will practice designing, planning, and carrying out a research project during your internship and thesis work.

Babylab EEG

After graduation

  • You are equipped with a broad understanding of the field of linguistics, and in-depth knowledge of a particular linguistics subdiscipline.
  • You have learned to apply your knowledge to new topics and to reflect critically on existing knowledge and current research.
  • You have acquired the academic, communication and methodological skills that prepare you for carrying out your own research.
  • In your internship and thesis under the supervision of senior researchers of the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics, you have learned to formulate original research questions, and develop answers.
  • You have started building a network in linguistics through participation in lecture series, workshops and the national LOT schools that will give you a head start in your postgraduate career.

As a graduate of the Research Master Linguistics, you will be highly eligible for a PhD position or for a position within a public or private organisation. Many alumni pursue academic careers, while others obtain traineeships in natural language resource firms, junior research positions in international organisations and research facilities, teaching positions in secondary schools and colleges, etc. Read more about possible career prospects.


Linguistics is a selective Research Master’s programme. Do you want to know if you are eligible for this Master? Check the entry requirements.

Join our webinar
Webinar Week 23-26 October 2017

On 26 October, we organised a live webinar about the Research Master’s programme in Linguistics. Missed the presentation? You can watch the recording!

  • Robert Grimm
    "This master offers a two-year-long opportunity to absorb as much as possible about language and linguistics. In my book, that's time well spent!"
  • Arnold Kochari
    "Our teachers were always active in research and discussed their projects with us. This gave me a feeling of being part of the research community."


Degree: This Master's programme is officially registered under its name in the Central Register of Higher Education Study Programmes
  • Title: MA
  • Master's degree in: Linguistics (Research)
  • Programme: Linguistics
Accredited by the NVAO
Croho code:
Language of instruction:
Part- or full-time status:
2 years
Credits: 60 credits equals one year full-time study load (European Credit Transfer System, ECTS)
Start of studies:
When to apply:
  • Dutch & EU/EER students: 1 June 2018
  • Non-EU/EEA students: 1 April 2018
Tuition fees:
Graduate school: